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Papers of the Week

Papers: 6 Jan 2024 - 12 Jan 2024

2023 Dec 19



Identification of arginine-vasopressin receptor 1a (Avpr1a/AVPR1A) as a novel candidate gene for chronic visceral pain.


Kader L, Willits A, Meriano S, Christianson JA, La JH, Feng B, Knight B, Kosova G, Deberry J, Coates M, Hyams J, Baumbauer K, Young EE


Chronic abdominal pain in the absence of ongoing disease is the hallmark of disorders of gut-brain interaction (DGBIs), including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). While the etiology of DGBIs remains poorly understood, there is evidence that both genetic and environmental factors play a role. In this study, we report the identification and validation of as a novel candidate gene for visceral hypersensitivity (VH), a primary peripheral mechanism underlying abdominal pain in DGBI/IBS. Comparing two C57BL/6 (BL/6) substrains (C57BL/6NTac and C57BL/6J) revealed differential susceptibility to the development of chronic VH following intrarectal zymosan (ZYM) instillation, a validated preclinical model for post-inflammatory IBS. Using whole genome sequencing, we identified a SNP differentiating the two strains in the 5′ intergenic region upstream of , encoding the protein arginine-vasopressin receptor 1A (AVPR1A). We used behavioral, histological, and molecular approaches to identify distal colon- specific gene expression differences and neuronal hyperresponsiveness covarying with genotype and VH susceptibility. While the two BL/6 substrains did not differ across other gastrointestinal (GI) phenotypes (e.g., GI motility), VH-susceptible BL/6NTac mice had higher colonic mRNA and protein expression. Moreover, neurons of the enteric nervous system were hyperresponsive to the AVPR1A agonist AVP, suggesting a role for enteric neurons in the pathology underlying VH. These results parallel our findings that patients’ colonic mRNA expression was higher in patients with higher pain ratings. Taken together, these findings implicate differential regulation of as a novel mechanism of VH-susceptibility as well as a potential therapeutic target specific to VH.